Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Everyday Heroes. One Match and Powwow People.

"I can be your hero, baby".I'm no hero. Heck I am not even heroic. But I love a good hero story. 

  As kids there were no absence of television heroes. The Lone Ranger, Batman, Tarzan, Bonanza, GunSmoke, Star Trek (no one, no one can forget James Tiberius Kirk), Mannix, and Mission Impossible (to name a few), and "book em Danno", Hawaii Five O.  I mean who doesn't think of saving the day, saving a life?  Being a masked hero like Adam West and his catchy lines. Or the Lone Ranger in his cool hat and sparkling horse?  Well I grew up and I realize that there are heroes. Just not like I imagined on television. Don't get me wrong, I still fantasize about wearing tights and walking up the side of a building, saying things like "old chum, its a long walk on a Sunday night". But I have come to appreciate the heroes who will not have the chance to wear the masked outfits. 

This year at the Manito Ahbee Powwow I witnessed lots of heroes. One Match Stem Cell and Marrow Network was at the Powwow. One Match was able to secure an exhibitors booth at the Powwow. The booth was a donation from Aboriginal producer  Lisa Meeches.  It was kind of Meeches to donate the booth area for the One Match team. One Match looks for people to sign up as possible Marrow matches for people that are in desperate need. The thing in the Aboriginal community is that no one really takes the time to think about blood donation or bone marrow donation. That is a problem. Especially with cancer rates being so high in the Aboriginal community. And the thing is, a match for Aboriginal people is hard to find. Aboriginal will match with Aboriginal.  If there is no Aboriginal people listed as donors, chances are that no donor will match.  Not enough Aboriginal people register to become donors. That is one of the things that One Match wants to change. Get more young Aboriginal people to take the time and sign up for donors.  It is a scary thing. People don't know what is involved. I saw the One Match people talking to young people at the powwow. Many of the people had no clue or were scared. But a number of young men stepped up and said, "sure I would like to sign up". Of course many many Women were eager to sign up to be donors. Seems its always Women who are first to step up with courage. Those damn beautiful women. Anyway I was happy to see a number of young men take the time to become possible donors. My friend Dave's son Jordon signed up. You see the ideal donor is a going to be a healthy young male.  So to all you young people that signed up to be donors at the Powwow, Kitchi Miigwich. You can be my hero baby.

With the bone marrow donors, only a quarter of relatives tested are a successful match. Donors have to be found outside of the immediate family. The reality of the situation is that not enough people are registering for bone marrow donation.

The Aboriginal community is not registering as donors. They currently make up less than one percent (.09%) of donor registrants. The chances of finding a match increase when you have donors of your ancestry.

It is devastating for a family when they are told that they have a child with leukemia. The learning curve of Cancer is steep. The family realizes that the OneMatch Stem Cell and Marrow Network becomes a life line. For many the matches never materialize.

 Dr. Donna Wall of Cancer Care Manitoba: A bone marrow transplant changes the body's immune system as well as other components made by blood. "In order to do this, we have to have a donor who is immune-matched," explains Wall. "And for our patients in Manitoba, we will search world-wide to find the very best donor for them," says Wall, who graduated from the University of Manitoba's Faculty of Medicine in 1981 and spent 27 years working in the United States before returning home in 2008.” 

There are many heroes out there. We see them everyday. It's just that they are not wearing tights or lycra spandex. You know them. I see them everywhere. I saw them at the Powwow, I see them standing outside being cross guards for school kids. You see them caring for your kid in the hospital. Or they are the ones lying in the chair at a blood donor clinic. I am sure happy to have seen some in action.

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